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Clinic Talk: Miami Defeats UNC in another nail biter

Let’s discuss the run defense and Christopher Herndon’s big play

Miami v North Carolina Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

The Miami Hurricanes won another nail biter, this time against the UNC Tar Heels. Miami came in ranked 8th in the country while UNC was a lowly 1-7. Miami has looked very much like the 1992 Miami Hurricanes, winning close games and overcoming offensive inconsistency via an aggressive turnover happy defense. ‘Canes fans may hate me for saying but they’re also looking a bit like the 2002 Ohio State Buckeyes squad that “beat” (woof) Miami in the Fiesta Bowl in 2003.

Miami is struggling in a few areas including:

1- The punting game where Zach Feagles has looked weak at times. Field position wins football games especially with the offensive woes Miami has shown.

2- Offensive consistency- it reminds me of the ‘92 Hurricanes where the QB play hit on its fair share of deep touchdowns but couldn’t stay consistent and accurate.

3- Defensive consistency against the run.

Miami Defense Against UNC’s Counter-Trey

The Miami linebacking corps has played confused on far too many snaps in 2017. The sophomores are in a bit of a slump, with Shaq Quarterman in the least slump and Zach McCloud in the biggest slump of the Bermuda Triangle 2.0.

Against UNC’s counter-trey, McCloud has terrible fundamentals and technique, he over pursues, then gets off balance, before loafing on the play once it goes down field. But it’s not just McCloud. On the counter-trey we’re showcasing here, there’s also no safety in the alley. A safety plays the alley in order to be there for run support. If a linebacker misses a tackle, or gets blocked, the safety is there to stop the play at 4-5 yards instead of 20+.

It’s the basics of defense and defensive scheme and at times Miami doesn’t secure those basics. You can tell the entire team is behind because of the time missed with the hurricane and how much that has set back the learning curve.

Miami’s Deep Seam to Herndon

This is a really big time play that game Miami the lead and stymied the UNC momentum. Miami’s Christopher Herndon IV, who I have lauded for a couple of years now, makes another big time play in orange and green. Herndon has a lower ceiling than a David Njoku but he is a polished football player that will have a long NFL career because of his polish.

Herndon avoids getting destroyed by the safety, and breaks a three-for-one tackle to get in the end zone. Malik Rosier makes the right read regarding space but it could’ve been a very costly mistake if the safety doesn’t shy away from the hit. Herndon was hung out there and luckily the UNC safety didn’t want any part of Herndon.

The route combination is a dig/seam on the bottom of the screen and a post/swing on the top. This creates the spacing Rosier needs to put the ball in between the safety and the linebacker.

Miami Defense Against Inside Zone Read

Another instance of the Miami linebacker corps being out of position and no safety there to fill the alley. If Joe Jackson doesn’t make a great read, and then a fantastic play from his defensive end position, this could’ve been the game changer UNC needed.

Jackson perfectly reads the ball, sees the give to the running back, and squeezes down the line after slow playing the QB on the inside zone read. His squeeze allows him a shot on the running back which knocks the football out and Miami recovers. Michael Pinckney over runs the play making every linebacker cardinal sin:

1- He turns his shoulders to the sideline instead of staying parallel to the line of scrimmage

2- He runs to the play instead of scraping, which keeps your shoulders square and allows you a chance at playing the cutback

3- He leaves a huge gap for cutback that the UNC back sees and is going to hit hard until Jackson catches him blind and knocks the ball loose.

Again there’s no linebacker or safety to be seen in the gap and this is a 20+ gain if Jackson doesn’t make the play of the week on the football.

I’m concerned as always about the lack of fundamentals and the scheme but Manny Diaz has proven time and again he’ll get enough turnovers to get the ‘Canes offense the football back... if only they could be more consistent on their end.